Articles for Parents

Everything listed under: school

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    What Your Child Needs to Know Before Starting Kindergarten

    Many parents feel pressure to make sure their child is actually kindergarten-ready. But, are they really focusing on the things that ultimately prepare their child for future success?

    Knowing their name, being able to tie their shoes and going to the bathroom by themselves are important for sure. But did you know that social competency skills such as being able to listen, share material with others, solve problems with their classmates, cooperate and be helpful are every bit as important, perhaps more so?

    Researchers from Penn State analyzed 753 children in Durham, N.C., Seattle, Nashville and rural Pennsylvania and found that children who were more likely to share or be helpful in kindergarten were also more likely to obtain higher education and hold full-time jobs nearly two decades later. Kids without these social competency skills were more likely to face negative outcomes by age 25, including substance abuse problems, challenges finding employment or run-ins with the law.

    The researchers found that for every one-point increase in a student's social competency score, he or she was:

    • Twice as likely to graduate from college;
    • 54 percent more likely to earn a high school diploma; and
    • 46 percent more likely to have a full-time job by age 25.

    For every one-point decrease in the child's score, he or she had a:

    • 64 percent higher chance of having spent time in juvenile detention;
    • 67 percent higher chance of having been arrested by early adulthood;
    • 52 percent higher rate of binge-drinking;
    • 82 percent higher rate of recent marijuana usage; and an
    • 82 percent higher chance of being in or on a waiting list for public housing at age 25.

    The research shows that high-quality relationships and rich social interactions in the home, school and community prepare children well for the future. Never underestimate the importance of a stable home in the life of a child.

    No matter your child's age, you can help them learn what they really need to know. Parents and extended family, child care providers and neighbors - everyone really - can help young children develop these social-emotional skills.

    Try these strategies to help children develop social/emotional competence:

    • Let them figure out how to solve their own problems (within reason).
    • Instead of making decisions for them, help them make decisions.
    • Teach them about emotions and help them understand other people's feelings.
    • Give them opportunities to learn what it looks like to share with others.
    • Provide experiences where they can be helpful.
    • Teach them how to express themselves appropriately with direction.
    • Be intentional about giving them instructions and helping them follow through on what you asked them to do. This will serve them well when it comes to listening and following instructions in the classroom.
    • Give your child the chance to engage in activities with others where they learn to cooperate without being prompted.

    Providing these opportunities is beneficial, far beyond kindergarten. Although it may be easier for adults to make these things happen for their children, easy isn't always best. Step back and see what they can do - that's some of the best kindergarten prep you could ever do.

    This article was originally published in the Chattanooga Times Free Press on March 17, 2019.

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    8 Ways to Manage Family Time

    The beginning of the school year, for some, actually feels more like a new year. Families are getting acquainted with new schools, new teachers and new schedules, not to mention a buffet line of new opportunities for extracurricular activities. If parents aren’t careful, they will have kids involved in three different activities, going in opposite directions. As a result, what little family time there was is now non-existent.

    How many times have you found yourself grabbing the kids from school, running by a fast-food place for dinner and heading out to practice with one child trying to finish homework in the car and the other throwing on their practice clothes? Many parents have resigned themselves to believing this is life as we know it and the goal is to survive.

    Before your family life becomes a runaway train, consider what is best for your family when it comes to afterschool activities and the amount of time you spend together. Many loud voices will tell you all the things your child needs to participate in for future success. Certainly, extracurricular activities can make your child’s life richer, but they can also create additional stress and anxiety for the entire family.

    When you rarely sit down for a meal together or have the opportunity to connect, relationships can suffer. Plus, trying to keep up can be exhausting. So, how much is too much?

    Here are some suggestions from kidshealth.org to help you manage activities and family connectedness:

    • Set ground rules ahead of time. Plan on kids playing one sport per season or limit activities to two afternoons or evenings during the school week.
    • Know how much time things require. Does your child realize soccer practice is twice a week or more, right after school? Then there's the weekly game. Will homework suffer?
    • Set priorities. School comes first. If kids have a hard time keeping up academically, they may need to drop an activity.
    • Know when to say no. If your child is already active but really wants to take on another activity, discuss what needs to be dropped to make room for something new.
    • Stay organized with a calendar. Display it on the refrigerator so everybody can stay up-to-date. And if you find an empty space on the calendar, leave it alone! Everyone needs a chance to just do nothing.
    • Even if kids sign up for the season, let them miss one or two sessions. Sometimes hanging out on a beautiful day is more important than going to one more activity, even if you've already paid for it.
    • Try to balance activities for all of your kids — and yourself. It hardly seems fair to expend time and energy carting one kid to activities, leaving little time for another. Take time for yourself and spend time together as a family.
    • Create family moments. Plan a few dinners when everyone can be home at the same time.

    Family time is a precious commodity, and your children will grow up in the blink of an eye. Plan now to set your family priorities, avoid unnecessary activities and be intentional about spending time together as a family. 

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    8 Back to School Parenting Tips

    Wait, what? It’s already time for school to start? How did this happen when it seems like just yesterday kids were doing the happy dance as they got off the bus and headed home for summer break?

    While most parents love the more relaxed schedule during the summer months, plenty of parents will be doing their own happy dance as their children head off to school and everybody settles into a routine. 

    In an effort to kick off the school year with less stress and as little drama as possible, there are some things parents can do ahead of time to set the stage.

    • Straight out of the gates, decide what your family can handle when it comes to extracurricular activities. Many child experts warn parents about the stress children experience when they are involved in too many activities, which ultimately leads to meltdowns while trying to finish homework and handle later bedtimes.
    • Know what you as a parent can handle. On top of children being stressed, parents really have to consider their own bandwidth when it comes to school, work and additional commitments. A stressed-out, tired parent who is always at the end of their rope typically leads to lots of drama. Can we agree that parental meltdowns just aren’t pretty? Knowing what you can handle sets the stage for what can actually be on the table at this time and what is just not an option.
    • Establish routines that provide consistency and structure at home: It’s best for children and parents alike. Having a consistent bedtime, wake up time, morning and nighttime routine actually decreases stress for children (and adults) because they know what to expect. Just because the kids complain about things doesn’t mean it isn’t good for them.
    • Include prep for the next day into your evening routine. Things like choosing an outfit, packing lunches, getting backpacks ready with completed homework inside and signing papers before going to bed can make the morning better. Anything you can do the night before to make the morning less hectic is a serious plus! 
    • Let your children do what they are capable of doing for themselves. If this is new for you, one way to get the ball rolling is to tell your children that the beginning of each school year is significant. They are capable of handling more responsibility as they get older, so give each child a short list of things they are responsible for making sure gets done as their contribution to the family. You may be tempted to jump in and do things yourself because it is faster or easier, but unless you want your child dependent on you later in life, it’s really good to develop the habit of delegating things you know they can handle. 
    • Establish a homework station that is an organized study space with all of the materials needed to do homework.
    • Think about technology and how you want your family to use it during the school year. You can find helpful information as you seek to make decisions about this at Families Managing Media.
    • Schedule a 15 to 30-minute opportunity once a week for everyone to come together and compare calendars. A great time to pull everything together is during a family meeting on Sunday evening. Talk about what’s on deck in the coming week for everyone, see if anybody is responsible for taking food or materials to school, plan meal prep for the week, or discuss anything important for everybody to know. 

    Most people don’t do well with surprises that throw them off their game. Making time for your family to connect and communicate is one of the most effective ways to decrease stress and drama. Here’s to a stress-free start to the school year for your family!

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    6 Ways to Help Children Thrive During Transitions

    At the end of summer, there are many transitions in the making. 

    Kindergartners are attending school for the first time. Last year's fifth-graders will go on to middle school. Eighth-graders who were at the top of the pecking order are entering high school and essentially are now the little fish in the big pond. Then there are the seniors - some of whom cannot wait for graduation, while others want to take their sweet time getting there.

    Some parents can't wait for the transitions to occur. Others, however, secretly grieve as they see time flying by, wishing it would stand still for just a bit longer.

    No matter where you fall on the transition continuum, the air is typically charged with emotions from excitement, fear and anxiety to anticipation and perhaps feeling overwhelmed. Those with middle and high school-age teens get the added hysteria of hormones in the mix.

    As a family, it is possible to have multiple transitions happening simultaneously, each with its own set of expectations and unpredictable challenges which can make any sane parent want to disappear.

    There's good news, though! You can intentionally bring calm to the forefront and help your kids thrive during times of transition.

    • Deal with your own emotions. Sometimes parents can be full of anxiety about an upcoming transition while the child is full of excitement. Be careful not to place your emotions on your child. Find an appropriate outlet to talk about how you're feeling.

    • Acknowledge that change is afoot. Talk about what will be different. Discuss what is exciting and what might be scary about the change.

    • Celebrate the milestone. While preparing for a transition can provoke anxiety, there is reason to celebrate the end of one season and the beginning of another. Share the ways in which you have seen your child/teen grow and mature. They need to know you believe in them and that you have confidence in their ability to navigate this new adventure.

    • Determine a plan of action. The unknown can be really scary. Helping your child develop an action plan for handling their transition will help build confidence and remove feelings of helplessness.

    • Identify your support team. Coaches, teachers, guidance counselors, pastors, youth leaders, mentors, grandparents, other extended family members and close friends can all be part of this team. Don't assume your child/teen knows who is on this team. Discuss it together and make sure they can identify at least three people other than their parents who are on their team.

    • Talk to other parents and children who have already made this transition. Conversations with others who have successfully navigated the journey can be both encouraging and enlightening, saving you a lot of heartache and stress while giving you pointers on how to avoid land mines. For children/teens, talking with others their own age who have walked the road can be comforting and empowering.

    All of these transitions are a sign of growth for children and their parents. These are great times to teach the life skills that will help your children be resilient. Instead of trying to avoid the changes, embrace them and make the most of them.

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    Back to School Tips

    When Mary Lou Youngberg’s boys were growing up, she often volunteered at their school. She did everything - from working as a classroom mother to a PTA officer and Scout leader.

    “When my children were older and we were facing the ‘empty nest,’ my husband encouraged me to return to school to get my teaching degree,” said Youngberg. “Now that I am teaching full-time, I want to go back to every teacher my sons ever had and tell them how much I admire and appreciate their decision to enter this challenging profession.”

    Youngberg describes her teacher training as amazing.

    “I learned that it is my job to inform parents that children go through developmental stages and that every child is unique and special. Every child has a learning style, and parents do too,” Youngberg said. “I have learned that it is very difficult to convey what it is that makes the teaching profession so challenging, yet so rewarding and worthwhile. It seems to me that we teachers share a joy and passion for working with children that others do not comprehend or appreciate.”

    Here are some tips that teachers wish all parents could know to help make for a great school year:

    • Be informed. Attend open houses and PTA meetings – no matter how old your child is. Read information sent home by your child’s teacher. It's amazing how often parents ask teachers questions about information that was addressed in newsletters or other correspondence. Become familiar with school curriculum, policies and procedures. If your school has a website, check it out.

    • Be responsible. Respond to signature requests promptly. Send lunch money, field trip money, PTA dues, etc. in a timely fashion. Teachers spend precious time sending home reminders about this and more. Make it a habit to check your child’s folder or backpack daily for notes and information from school. Be on time for conferences. Also, label all your child’s belongings, including jackets and backpacks.

    • Be a good role model. Demonstrate the importance of following school rules and procedures. Make sure your child gets to school AND is picked up on time. If your child is supposed to sit and read quietly in the cafeteria before school, make sure she has a book in her backpack. Look for opportunities to meet and greet all the adults your child will encounter at school.

    • Be supportive. Join PTA and attend meetings. Offer to volunteer. Even if you are unable to go on field trips or volunteer during the school day, you may be able to help in other ways. Perhaps you could prepare classroom materials at home in the evening.

    • Be reasonable. If you need to meet with the teacher, request a meeting. It is hard for teachers to have quick unscheduled conferences when they are trying to keep up with their class. If your child is sick, keep him home from school.

    • Encourage good homework habits. Help your child understand the importance of completing homework assignments on time. You can help and encourage your child, but make sure the final product reflects her effort, not yours. When parents provide structure and guidance - then allow their children to learn from their mistakes as well as their successes - it shows they care. If your child is struggling with a particular topic, talk with the teacher about ways you can help. Look over your child’s work to reinforce the concepts the school is teaching.

    • Keep the teacher informed. Send a note or talk to your child’s teacher about issues that may affect your child’s performance at school. If your child is dealing with grief, divorce, sibling rivalry, nervousness about an upcoming event or excitement about a visit from out-of-town grandparents, it is good to share this information. Make sure the teacher knows about health issues such as asthma or allergies. Provide information on what procedures to follow in the event of an allergic reaction.

    • Encourage healthy habits. Whether your child buys or brings a lunch, emphasize good nutrition. Avoid sending sugary snacks to school and have healthy snacks on hand at home. Encourage your child to spend time being physically active through play or sports. Make sure your child gets enough sleep.

    • Read together. Children benefit enormously when parents read with them. Make reading together a daily habit. Have discussions about reading and talk about books as you take turns reading out loud. When possible, help your child acquire age-appropriate books about topics that interest him.

    • Express Appreciation. Teachers strive to inspire students to be lifelong learners. They often make their work look effortless, but it requires a lot of expertise and countless planning hours to do what they do.

    “It is important to remember that teachers teach because of the things they believe in,” Youngberg said. “They want each child’s special interests and talents to be nurtured. Teachers know that once you give children the tools and experiences to make learning relevant, they truly will be lifelong learners.”

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    6 Steps to Help Teens Get Organized

    When the school requested a conference with the Goldbergs regarding one of their sons, all kinds of things ran through their mind. Late homework was probably the last thing they expected to discuss.

    “After the school conference we tested him and went through all kinds of processes to make sure we had him in the right school and in the right environment to do his best work,” said Donna Goldberg, author of The Organized Student: Teaching Students Skills for Success for School and Beyond.

    “We determined he was in the right place. Our son kept telling us that we didn’t need to do the testing, but we assured him we did. The following year, on his own, he made a goal to turn in all homework on time and not ask for extensions on anything. At the end of the year, he told us what his goal had been and he was very proud of himself for accomplishing it.”

    Goldberg's experience with her son led her to write the book and help students master organizational skills.

    “We teach children to tell time, but we don’t teach them how to manage it,” Goldberg said. “When I started this, schools did not require work planners. Now they require planners, but few students know how to use the tool to help them accomplish their goals for the year.”

    Encouraging your teen to start school with goals can help them succeed in the classroom and generally, in life. Whether they want to make the football team, turn in homework on time or be on time for school, learning how to organize is foundational to their success.

    “Just because parents are organized does not mean their children will be,” Goldberg said. “In many instances, I see parents who expect their children to learn organizational skills just by watching. Just modeling a particular behavior does not ensure that teens are learning it. We have to break it down for them step by step. In that process, parents need to remember that although a certain way of doing things works for them, that same system may not work for their teen.”

    Goldberg believes these six steps can help teens develop organizational skills:

    • Work to establish trust with your teen. Your don't allow your teen to rummage through your purse or briefcase without your permission. Instead of just going through their backpack, ask them to go through it with you.

    • Recognize success, no matter how small. Just because you want your teen to get organized does not mean he'll remember everything. Have a system in place, allow it to fall apart, and start again from where you left off.

    • Don’t bite off more than your teen can chew. Some teens can work on an entire organizational system quickly. Others need to take it slowly.

    • Remove the academic component from the equation. If the goal is to complete work on time but your teen made a terrible test grade, celebrate their progress for turning in homework on time. Discuss the grade another time. Deal with them as two separate issues.

    • Make sure everybody knows: this is a process. Organizational skills don't just happen, and it takes practice. There will be missteps along the way. But, as you consistently work the process, teens begin to internalize the system.

    • Keep everything in perspective and be positive. Stay focused on organization and remember that great achievements don't always show up on the report card.

    “I think many parents do not understand how difficult it is to be a student today,” Goldberg said. “Teens are inundated with information from the time they get up until they go to bed. It is very difficult to be organized when you are constantly transitioning. A child who does homework while messaging and texting can’t focus because he is going from one thing to another.”

    Remember that teens rarely plan to be inefficient. When a child struggles with organization, try different ways to help your child problem-solve the situation.

    When push comes to shove, most teens can come up with some excellent ideas. It requires time and energy, but you are teaching valuable, lifelong skills.

    For tips on parenting, get our E-book "How to be a Guide for your Teen." Download Here

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    How Children Succeed

    What exactly does it take for a child to succeed in life? Is it good grades? High test scores? Tenacity?

    According to Paul Tough, author of How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity and the Hidden Power of Character and Whatever it Takes, adults focus on high test scores, pre-admission to preschool and SAT scores as child-success indicators.

    Based on research, however, Tough says we focus too much on these areas. He believes that the most important qualities have more to do with character. These skills include perseverance, curiosity, conscientiousness, optimism and self-control.

    Tough and his wife became parents while he was writing his book. Surprisingly, the research actually made him a more relaxed parent. When his son was born, Tough was very much caught up in the idea of childhood as a race - the faster a child develops skills and the better he does on tests, the better he’ll do in life.

    These days, the author is much less concerned about his son’s reading and counting ability. While he certainly believes those things are important, he's more concerned about his character. He wants his son to be able to recover from disappointments, calm himself down, keep working at a puzzle even when it’s frustrating and be good at sharing. He also wants his son to feel loved and confident, and have a full sense of belonging. Most importantly, Tough wants his son to be able to handle failure.

    It's hard for us parents to let our children fail. Why is that? Because everything in us wants to shield them from trouble. But Tough and others are now discovering that we may actually harm our children when we try to protect them. By not allowing them to learn to manage adversity or to cope with failure, we produce kids who have real problems when they grow up. Overcoming adversity produces character. And character, even more than IQ, leads to real and lasting success.

    According to Tough, scientists realize that early adversity in a child’s life affects the conditions of their lives. It can also alter the physical development of their brains. This knowledge is being used nationwide to help children overcome constraints.

    Regardless of socioeconomic status, Tough contends that children with the proper support in the most painful circumstances can still achieve amazing things. But many children do not grow up with that right support. For example, there may be two parents in the home who are so bent on their child’s success that they never let him experience failure. Or at the completely opposite end of the spectrum, there's no support to help the child get back up when he fails.

    For more insight on parenting, download our E-book "4 ways to stay connected after Baby" Download Here

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    How to Prevent Bullying

    Paul Coughlin’s passion to prevent bullying comes from his own bullying experience while in elementary school. He understands how a campaign of cruelty can damage a person’s emotional and psychological well-being, not just in childhood, but often for life.

    This knowledge, along with his passion, led him to start an anti-bullying effort called The Protectors, whose primary focus is on the potential strength, heroic desire and rescuing capacity of bystanders. Studies show that bystanders possess the most potential to transform an environment of bullying into one of character, freedom and justice. One study revealed that if only one bystander, whether popular or not, uses his or her assertive but nonviolent words in defense of a target, the incident of bullying can end 58 percent of the time within six to eight seconds.

    How prevalent is bullying in schools?

    • One out of every four students report being victims of bullying during the school year. (National Center for Educational Statistics, 2015)

    • Of children who are bullied, 64 percent did not report it. (Petrosino, Guckenburg, DeVoe, and Hanson, 2010)

    • School-based bullying prevention programs decrease bullying by up to 25 percent. (McCallion and Feder, 2013)

    • The reasons for being bullied reported most often by students were looks (55 percent), body shape (37 percent) and race (16 percent). (Davis and Nixon, 2010)

    According to Coughlin, an expert witness regarding bullying and the law, bullying is not about conflict and miscommunication. It is about standing in contempt of another human being.

    "It is a myth that the bully has anger management problems,” says Coughlin. “Bullies are highly predatory people. Bullies tend to come from homes with coercive parenting styles where parents express disdain and contempt of people who are different from them. Young people learn through modeling, this is how you treat people.”

    What can you do?

    • Speak Up. If someone is bullying you, tell them to stop.

    • Bystanders are the best front line of defense. Stand up for the victim when you see bullying happen. Phrases such as, “Stop it, that’s wrong,” “Let’s do something else,” “I am going to report you” are powerful and can stop the bullying.

    • Schools can adopt anonymous reporting. One of the top five apps changing the world for good, as reported by CNN, is an anonymous reporting app called STOPit.

    • Take the incident seriously. Act sooner rather than later.

    • Don’t look the other way. When you know something is happening, report it.

    “What’s really going to change bullying is when we change parenting,” Coughlin says. “As parents, we need to expect our kids to help someone in need. It needs to be part of your family mission and purpose. I have actually had this conversation with all three of my kids. I expect you to do something life-affirming. We don’t stand by and watch someone’s psychological flesh get seared from their body and do nothing.

    “Research actually shows that when we see someone being targeted and you have the power to act yet you do nothing, our capacity for courage, sympathy and empathy decrease. We become small-souled. If we want strong kids, this is a pivotal moment. This is a tremendous opportunity for character development.”

    Although it is not possible to prevent bullying altogether, there is no excuse for allowing it to continue if you know it is going on. Speaking up for yourself or another victim can make a huge difference both now and in the future.

    For tips on parenting get our E-book "How to be a Guide for your Teen" Download Here

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    Ways to Prepare Your Child for Kindergarten

    Thousands of children will soon make the transition from preschool or home to kindergarten. Some children will look forward to this moment with great anticipation, but others may experience some anxiety about leaving familiar surroundings. Regardless of how your child is feeling, parents play a powerful role in helping make the transition a smooth one.

    Timing Is Everything

    Now is the time to begin emotionally preparing your child (and yourself) for this new phase in life. Your attitude makes a big difference. Even if you are struggling with the idea of your little one going off to kindergarten, your goal is to deal with your emotions appropriately and prepare your child to make the most of this rite of passage.

    Tips to Help You Prepare Your Child

    • Visit the school where your child will be attending kindergarten.
    • If your child has not been in the care of someone other than Mom and Dad, allow your child to stay with other trusted adults prior to kindergarten to help them get used to another adult being in charge.
    • Plan activities with other children where your child has to learn to take turns and share.
    • Point out colors and shapes at the grocery store and count apples, bananas or cereal boxes.
    • Encourage active play, especially pretend-play, with other children.
    • Read, read, read.
    • Limit TV, computer, tablet or smartphone screen time.
    • Encourage independence in managing daily tasks. For example, teach your child how to tie their shoes, let them set the table, make their bed, dress themselves, etc.
    • Start your school routine early to help your child adjust to the change in schedule.

    Dealing with Your Emotions

    If this is your first child or your youngest child headed off to kindergarten, the transition may be more emotional than expected. Guard against behaviors that might upset your child. If you are anxious about being away from your child, talk with other parents who have already experienced it. Instead of going home to an empty house on the first day of school, plan to have coffee with a supportive friend.

    While it can be scary to leave your child at school, remember this: Most teachers love children dearly. They care about their social and emotional development as much as they care about their academic growth.

    Helping Your Child Through the First Week

    The first week can be especially hard for your child. Here are some ways to make it easier:

    • Be supportive. Adjusting to school may take time. Ask, "What was the most fun thing you did in school today?" Then ask, "What was the hardest thing for you?" Only ask this after you have discussed what was fun. Don't expect your child to tell you every detail.
    • Instill a sense of confidence in your child. Celebrate your child's successes. It takes time to adjust to new people, new activities and a new environment. Don't expect perfection.
    • Set aside a time each evening to share your child's day. See if your child has brought home any drawings, paintings or scribbling. After a few weeks have passed and your child has gotten used to school, ask about play in the classroom, stories the teacher read, recess, etc.
    • Read everything the school sends home. During the first weeks of school, children bring home a wealth of information about routines, important dates and meetings that you will need to know about. Make sure to check your child's backpack daily.
    • You may want to go over with your child — in a positive, calm way — the information you have supplied to the school on the emergency card. This includes who may pick your child up other than you, where she can go if you're ever not home, etc.

    For more insight on parenting, download our E-book "4 Ways to Stay Connected After Baby." Download Here

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    A Checklist for Sending Your Child to College

    In addition to sending her own two sons to college, Rose-Marie Hippler helps hundreds of families get ready for the college sendoff.

    "Having been through this personally as well as professionally, I bring experience and expertise to parents and their young adults as they leap into the next phase of life," says Hippler, who has a master's of social work and is an independent educational consultant at Winter Park College Consultants.

    "There are usually a lot of emotions stirring around as the anticipation of going off to college draws closer," she says. "I remember when we were on the countdown. There were days when I thought the first day of college couldn't get here fast enough. I decided that was God's way of preparing you to say goodbye."

    Hippler believes one way parents and their teens can keep nerves and anxiety at bay is to create a plan for all they need to accomplish before heading off to college. One way to keep emotions in check is to put together a plan of action.

    Here are some things that may not be on your radar, but Hippler says need to be on your checklist:

    • Make sure your teen has had a physical and all the shots they will need. If your teen is on a regular medication, you will want to transfer their prescription to a local pharmacy. And, unless you have signed the HIPAA form, healthcare professionals cannot legally give you information about your injured or hospitalized adult child.
    • Make a copy of everything in their wallet in case they lose it, which will probably happen at least once.
    • Mark all the upcoming events on your calendar. Don't forget parent's weekend, sports events you plan to attend, Christmas and spring breaks and even the mid-term and finals schedule. Make hotel reservations early for events such as parent's weekend and airline reservations for your student's Thanksgiving and winter breaks.
    • If your teen has not already opened a checking account, now is the time. Instead of writing all the checks, let them do it. It gives them a good indication of your investment in their education. Plus, it lets them get the hang of balancing a checkbook and keeping up with their own money.
    • Alcohol, drugs, sex, campus safety and mental health issues are factors on every college campus. Your teen probably thinks they have a really good handle on things. However, it's still a good idea to have some serious conversations about campus conduct. There are too many examples of teens whose poor choices during the college years forever changed their lives.
    • If they don't know how to do their laundry, teach them then let them do their thing. The first time Hippler visited visit one of her sons, she noticed a stack of sheets in his laundry basket. He explained that he put all three sets of sheets on his bed at once so he could pull off the top fitted and flat sheets and be ready to go. Then he waited until they were all dirty to wash them. It's not the way she would have done it, but it worked for him.
    • Tell them you believe in them and they have been preparing for this their entire life. From the time they went to kindergarten, to middle school, and then to high school, those firsts have been preparing them for this next step in their journey.

    If you're struggling with letting go, find experienced friends to walk you through this time of transition. And keep reminding yourself, this is normal.

    For more helpful tips on sending your teen off to college, visit knowsymoms.com.

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    5 Ways You Can Prepare for a Great School Year

    Every fall, children head back to school. While some will be going for the first time, others will be making the transition to a new grade or perhaps even a new school.

    Transitioning into a new school year can be exciting, but some children are fearful. Thoughts about new teachers, concerns over moving to a new school or anxiety about a new grade are all things your child may be thinking, but not talking about.

    No matter the age of your child, this is an important time of year for them. Parents can help get the year off to a great start by establishing rituals and consistency around the school day.

    As human beings, we like to know what to expect, but this is especially true for children. When structure and consistency are missing in their lives, they tend to feel out of control, which can lead to acting out. The acting out behavior could range from temper tantrums to refusing to do homework or being disrespectful.

    When preparing for a new school year, it is the perfect time to establish a game plan to help your child launch into the school year on a positive note. Here are a few suggestions to help your child have a positive experience:

    • Talk with your children before school starts about the weeks ahead. For younger children, a trip to school is very important. What doesn’t seem scary to adults may be very scary to a young child. Take their feelings seriously. Decide how many extracurricular activities will be allowed.
    • Discuss emergency plans. What happens if your child gets sick? Who will pick up your children in the event of a crisis? Also, talk with your child about how you want them to deal with strangers.
    • Establish a morning and evening routine. These times can be hurried and stressful, creating anxiety for parents as well as children. Determine ahead of time what you expect. Will you eat breakfast together? What time do you expect your children to be out of bed and getting ready? Who packs lunches? What time should everybody be ready to leave the house? You might want to do a couple of practice runs prior to the start of school. Evening routines might include: setting out the clothes for the next day, putting all of the school gear in one place, and touching base as a family before going to bed. This can really help the morning be a more pleasant experience.
    • Make sure your child gets adequate rest. Whether you have young children or teens, research shows that they need around 10 hours of sleep.
    • Know your child. Be in touch with your child’s needs. When making decisions about homework, chores, television, etc., consider these questions: Is your child an early riser or a night owl? Do little things tend to stress them out? Consider different options for accomplishing tasks.

    When children see you taking their concerns about school seriously, they are more likely to be more excited and less anxious about the experience. Investing your time and effort will give your children the best chance for success.

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    Dealing with Homework Pressures

    At the beginning of the school year, a second grade teacher in Texas sent this letter home to her classroom parents:

    After much research this summer, I am trying something new. Homework will only consist of work that your student did not finish during the school day. There will be no formally assigned homework this year.

    Research has been unable to prove that homework improves student performance. Rather, I ask that you spend your evenings doing things that are proven to correlate with student success. Eat dinner as a family, read together, play outside, and get your child to bed early.

    Thanks, Mrs. Brandy Young

    A parent posted the letter on Facebook with a hearty thank you to the teacher. It went viral as parents nationwide expressed frustration at the amount of homework their children had, along with the stress it created in their home.

    Stephanie Donaldson-Pressman is a clinical director at New England Center for Pediatric Psychology who contributed to a study published in the American Journal of Family Therapy regarding homework. She has serious concerns about the amount of homework children have and its impact on them.

    “One study found kindergartners were given 25 minutes or more of homework,” says Donaldson-Pressman. “Homework for kindergartners is supposed to be nonexistent. Children at this age need to be playing outside, experiencing the early stages of socialization, learning how to play, how to share so they are finessing their motor skills. Family activities and play are more important than homework at this age.”

    Donaldson-Pressman believes parents have a lot more control than they realize. Parents can set limits for how long their child does homework.

    The National Education Association recommends only 10 minutes per grade level per night. The same study that found kindergartners spend too much time on homework also found that first graders spent 25 to 30 minutes. By third grade, kids spent more than a half-hour per night. Donaldson-Pressman noted that in her practice, some third graders spent two to four hours on homework - and their parents can’t help them.

    According to Donaldson-Pressman, the data shows that homework over the recommended time is not beneficial to children’s grades or GPA. Evidence actually suggests that it’s detrimental to their attitude about school, grades, self-confidence, social skills and quality of life.

    If homework creates stress in your home, Donaldson-Pressman says you can help decrease the angst if you:

    • Create a quiet place to do homework.

    • Try to do homework at the same time every day.

    • Set a timer for 10 minutes for a first-grader, and then have them stop. Fourth graders need to move on to something else after 40 minutes.

    As a parent, you probably already know how important it is for children of all ages to get enough rest. Plus, you want them to have time to play, develop friendships outside of school hours and engage in family activities.

    In addition to managing the homework situation, assessing your child’s activities and how much pressure kids feel to perform can help. Hopefully, these ideas can allow your family to enjoy more quality time together after a long day at work and school.